Biography

Early Years

Red Jasper first began in the mid 1980s. Davey Dodds and Robin Harrison, both from the band's spiritual home Bradenstoke in Wiltshire, met at the village pub and over a few beers started to talk about music. The bare bones of Red Jasper was soon created and the pair started to play and write the early Red Jasper material together. Tony Heath was added as a third member and the 'original' Red Jasper, with a far more folky tinge, began to gig. Mark Ollard was added on drums to produce the first full band line-up.

This incarnation went on to record the 'England's Green and pleasant Land?' album in 1987, which was sold at gigs and began to get the band noticed. Ironically the album does not contain the song of the same title.

Red Jasper was always a 'live' band, and over the next year they worked relentlessly, developing a name across the UK. Saxophone aficionado Pat D'Arcy, (formerly of Ophiuchus) was the next to join the band adding another dimension to the music. Red Jasper continued this way and started working on their next project, the 12" EP 'Pull That Thumb (off the top of your head)'. The 'A' side ('Pull That Thumb' and the pacey folk-punk track 'Flagpole') now complete, the band headed off to perform at an open air music festival in Wiltshire.

Here, backstage, they met David Clifford who was also performing at the festival with his band Nobody's Heroes. For some time there had been tensions in Red Jasper and with this in mind, the decision was taken to part ways with Ollard and install Clifford as the new drummer.

As an aside, Clifford also later went on to perform with Ophiuchus as a project for a while. Clifford was Jon Cousin's – Ophiuchus' creator - first drummer when they met at school in 1981. They briefly appeared together in an outfit called The So.

Classic line-up #1

The line-up now: Dodds, Harrison, Heath, D'Arcy, Clifford became the unit that was most identifiable in the early years.

Clifford's first job was to rehearse and play the B-side of the 12" EP. This recorded version of 'England's Green and Pleasant Land?' is, for some, the definitive version. As an aside, it was Clifford who actually took the front cover photograph for the 12" EP; a young man from Bristol called Michael, who ended up being name checked in the later recording, 'World Turned Upside Down'.

The EP was released and well received, both critically and commercially. Dodds and Clifford conducted a lot of the business side of the band at this point, putting in many miles for meetings with various distributors and record labels in London. Red Jasper the band continued their punishing gigging schedule, often playing up to 18 times a month all over the UK.

It was Dodds who was mainly responsible for securing the deal with HTD records. This London-based independent was (and still is) responsible for producing and distributing the back catalogues of many famous bands; including the entire catalogue of Jethro Tull.

Over a 4-week period in 1990, Red Jasper took over a recording studio just off of the M25, and produced 'Sting in the Tale'. The engineer on the project was Craig Thomson (who also engineered Def Leppard's Pyromania), and the other name of note is that of Ric Sanders (Fairport Convention) who supplied guest Violin.

The album was well received and elevated Red Jasper once more. The punishing schedule had taken its toll, however, and tensions within the band were running high. With some regret both Pat and Tony decided to leave and pursue other projects, leaving the core three to continue.

A New beginning

This step-change afforded the band the opportunity of breaking out and trying something new. Red Jasper's sound engineer at the time introduced the band to seasoned bass player and song writer Jon Thornton. The fit was perfect, so the new line-up started to rehearse again. Much new material was written in this period, so a new platform was needed to show it off. Via a Bath-based distributor, a deal was done in which Red Jasper would produce their first live album. In 1992, Red Jasper performed at the Bristol Bierkeller, at which time the live album recording and a live video of the show was recorded.

Unfortunately, due to a calamitous technical problem, the recoding failed and although the gig was fantastic, it rendered the recording unusable. A second attempt was made a couple of months later at The Fleece and Firkin in Bristol and this time all was well. It was this twist of fate that actually named the album 'Action Replay'. The band was joined on stage on both occasions by keyboard player Lloyd George. He, via his own band, Just, had known Red Jasper for many years. Lloyd had (and still does), worked with Hawkwind amongst others, and possessed a style and presence that fitted perfectly with Red Jasper.

Classic line-up #2

After the release of 'Action Reply', Lloyd joined Red Jasper full-time, giving the second classic line-up, and for some the definitive Red Jasper line-up of Dodds, Harrison, Clifford, Thornton, George.

Action Replay was the first Red Jasper product to be widely available outside of the UK. During this time it was noticed by the Holland-based S.I. music.

The band signed deals with S.I. and proceeded to record the concept album 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Largely penned by Dodds/Harrison, the album won a lot of new fans; particularly in Europe, which lead to live work in Holland. Red Jasper played several times in support of this album, appearing with both Pallas and Shadowland during this time.

The follow-up, 'The Winter's Tale', followed a similar pattern and completed the double set of concept albums. The band once again played in Holland supporting the release and all seemed well.

S.I. Music at this point changed its name to Cymberline for the last of the three Red Jasper Dutch releases. The label ceased to be shortly after the release of 1997's Anagramary. The album had a more mainstream prog feel, and lead-Jasp Dodds was hardly involved at all. Davey had started his own successful business and was beginning to leave the band behind. Anagramary also introduced Clifford onto lead vocals for the first time.

Sadly that was that for 13 years. Anagramary was never played live and never toured.

2010

Red Jasper are of course back!

Red Jasper are now a four-piece recording unit: Harrison/Clifford/Thornton/George and rehearsing material for the forthcoming and much-anticipated new album The Great and Secret Show, their first in 13 years. Clifford has taken over the lead vocal duties after having worked extensively as a vocalist during the 13-year break from the band.

News, updates and progress will be posted here first, so check back often.